Aug 20, 2015

A simple approach for maximizing the overlap of phylogenetic and comparative data

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Matthew W. PennellWilliam K. Cornwell


Biologists are increasingly using curated, public data sets to conduct phylogenetic comparative analyses. Unfortunately, there is often a mismatch between species for which there is phylogenetic data and those for which other data is available. As a result, researchers are commonly forced to either drop species from analyses entirely or else impute the missing data. Here we outline a simple solution to increase the overlap while avoiding potential the biases introduced by imputing data. If some external topological or taxonomic information is available, this can be used to maximize the overlap between the data and the phylogeny. We develop an algorithm that replaces a species lacking data with a species that has data. This swap can be made because for those two species, all phylogenetic relationships are exactly equivalent. We have implemented our method in a new R package phyndr, which will allow researchers to apply our algorithm to empirical data sets. It is relatively efficient such that taxon swaps can be quickly computed, even for large trees. To facilitate the use of taxonomic knowledge we created a separate data package taxonlookup; it contains a curated, versioned taxonomic lookup for land plants and is interoperable w...Continue Reading

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Trees (plant)
Research Personnel
Phylogenetic Analysis
Biologist (General)
Computer Program Package

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